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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Five Ways to Separate Yourself from the Competition

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The corporate world can be extremely rewarding, offering opportunities for exciting challenges, intriguing collaborations and personal and professional growth, better pay and more interesting and challenging assignments.

However, the vicious side of the industry becomes more apparent in the fight to fill limited job openings. Since so many individuals are vying for each spot, you need to separate yourself from the competition. These five tips can help:

Get More Education

The vast majority, or 85 percent, of American adults have a high school education, but only 28 percent have a college degree, according to the U.S. Census. Furthering your education is a simple way to separate yourself from the competition. Online courses en route to a college degree are good options for you if you are already working full-time. For those working and looking to add to their on-the-job experience, a management degree can help boost a resume.

Expand Your Skills

Your competitors share the basic skills required for a position, but you can make yourself stand out by developing new skill sets. Pursuing your education is an excellent way to become proficient in all areas of business. Additionally, volunteer work offers you a low-pressure environment to practice and perfect your skills. Occasional errors while volunteering are valuable learning experiences, rather than career-ending mistakes. Potential employers may not have even realized that they were looking for someone with your expertise until they read your resume.

Be Nice

Far too many people are too wrapped up in their own affairs to care about others. During your daily exchanges, you might notice the monotony of “hi, how are you’s.” To stand apart, be a good listener. Simply being nice may set you apart from the competition. Show others that you care by listening carefully, asking follow-up questions, being polite and learning people’s names. Your friendliness could pay off in glowing feedback in letters of recommendation.

Enhance Your Image

Work toward building your image among your colleagues. Step forward to make presentations in meetings and conferences to give yourself more exposure and let everyone know how deeply involved you are.. Again, education is an excellent opportunity to develop your presentation techniques and learn how to use the latest technology.

Manage Your Time Better

Better than what? A more accurate question would be “better than whom?” The answer is “better than everyone else.” Think of a typical workplace. Most employees are rushing to their next meeting, frantically revising drafts of proposals to send to their supervisors or coordinating last-minute efforts to meet project deadlines. These people are so harried that you dread approaching them for fear of interfering with their schedules. Managers and upper-level executives are notable exceptions to this image. They exude calmness, and you feel comfortable approaching them. Their composure comes not because they are less productive, but because they are more efficient. They have excellent time management skills. Years of experience and practice may help you develop your own skills, but get a head start with scheduling tools and self-awareness.

In Summary

Competition is stiff, but you can separate yourself from the competition with a solid plan and some serious effort. You can build a good reputation among your coworkers and supervisors, and learn how to make a good first impression on potential employers. Extra education can also increase your job options and give you more credibility. Employ these tips and see the impact they can have on you career.



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